My best enemy.

Ronon D. & John S.

Disclaimer: All characters belong to MGM/Gecko. I own nothing.

Timeline: Season 5. After "Broken Ties".

Spoilers: Minor for "Broken Ties".

Rating: K+

It was weird. No, not fighting his own team, his friends, his only family in entire galaxy. He was through this before, with Tyro and the rest. Weird was looking them into eyes and finding nothing familiar – no friendship, loyalty...trust. Not one damn thing he grew so accustomed with, he didnt even thought it was foolish to feel safe with anymore.

McKay was easiest to take down. For all his genius, bluster and superiority when it came down to down-and-dirty brawn he was like nine years old boy throwing a tantrum. Screaming, salivating, eyes bulged charge that was met with quick jab in solar plexus, and then with mercifully fast chop to the exposed nerve cluster. Yeah, astrophysicist might've lost all this flaunted IQ, leaving only lizard-brain primal rage, but his body was still soft, slow and completely battle-untrained.

It was not their fault. He understood this. He also finally understood that he could stop feel guilty about Wraith enzyme, being turned into a follower, betraying them...because he didnt. No more than they betrayed him on this Ancestors-forsaken mudball, hunting him like pack of wild vachha dogs.

Teyla was more tricky. Oh, it was not the question if he could take her down. Problem was how much harm he'd have to inflict to defeat her, and simultaneously stop her from hurting him too badly in the process. She would fight to the death, and would be much more dangerous than Rodney. So, for her sake he did something unthinkable...he avoided good scrap completely. Three hours spent unmoving on thickest branch he could find, two shots from his gun and down she went. It was almost anti-climactic, and he felt like a...cheater. She was best warrior he knew, she deserved better than getting two stun-shots in the back.

Was he getting soft? On Sateda finding ways to defeat his squad-mates was normal part of the training process. On the run from Wraith he expected to be betrayed and attacked by everyone he met. He automatically mapped any area he was in for escape routes, ambush sites, defendable points. When he stopped doing exactly this since he came to live in Atlantis? After a year? Two? Why he allowed himself to slip so badly, only dumb luck saved his life when his team first attacked? Hell, who he wanted to fool? Ronon Dex was no longer Satedan. He was Atlantean now, and it felt damn good. He was free to care for others, to go soft and easy when he wanted to. He was more, better...he was right, and doing good. He was fighting not for his own life – he fought to save his friends from themselves, and to get them home and under Keller's care. This was right, and it was best insult he could throw into Wraith faces. They tried to turn him into a prey they could play with, and he managed to emerge as a better human being in the end.

`He couldnt find Sheppard. He scoured whole area for better part of the day after he secured Teyla and Rodney safely (and very thoroughly) tied up and barricaded in small cave. He figured out Sheppard would be as tricky as Teyla to track, but after hours of stalking through empty forest he started to worry. When they pounced on him when he returned to the camp it didnt look like they were antagonistic to each other. After he managed to shake them off and run into small lake, swam across and doubled back to find what the hell happened to his friends, they already split off and stalked him separately. But what if Sheppard and Teyla crossed paths later, didnt recognize each other and fought (he flatly refused to think McKay would be able to pose any threat to their team leader – crazed out of his mind or not) and John lost and was now dead or badly injured? Athosian didnt look any worse for wear though – he was reasonably sure John would be able to at least leave a mark on her if she's got close enough to fight. But there could be other dangerous things in this forest. What if John ran into something with predatory instinct AND teeth and claws to back it up? P-90's were left at camp, and Rodney and Teyla didnt even tried to use proverbial sticks and stones to fight – much less their sidearms and knives.

It was almost a new feeling for him. Something he forgot about after that fateful day Melena died in front of him. Worry and concern and fear – not for himself, but for other person. It was...uncomfortable. It was eating at him, rooted so deeply he literally felt his hands shake. So this was like having a real family? Feeling scared and helpless, teetering on the brink of panic? Wanting to run in circles, and scream and look twice under every fallen tree and bush? And to think he felt superior when Rodney went into full panic mode when Jeannie was kidnapped. And when Teyla was red-eyed every morning after Athosians disappeared. When Jeannie worried herself literally sick when Rodney was losing his mind. It suck...but then again, it proved he was still human, and not mindless fighting machine like some people thought. So he forced himself to act like any other reasonable human, stopped for a minute to think...and did another unthinkable thing. Ronon Dex ran to get help.

There was a time when he was impressed with Rodney's ability to destroy five-sixths of solar system (and by then many long trips in puddle jumpers taught him how really freaking big were those). There was a time when he felt so secure with his own size, battle prowess and strenght he thought nothing short of a smart Wraith could take him down – until he met small, bright eyed Athosian woman and her sticks. There was also a time when he was impressed by Sheppard's piloting skills. And his ease with any Ancestor's technology. Or track record when it came to blowing up Hives. Or ability to stand toe-to-toe with Wraith queen and still be able to quip one liners at her. But he was never impressed with Lt. Colonel's fighting abilities. Oh, sure – he had heard stories about sixty Genii killed single handedly in one night. Or about a Wraith-that-did-not-die. He had seen with his own eyes trail of dead bodies left behind by a man who survived three Wraith feedings and by all accounts should be flat on his back and dying. He had seen cold indifference in Sheppard's eyes when Kolya was falling with 9-millimeter slug in heart. But damnit, it was also a man running around in un-laced boots. Who could spend entire day meticulously planning a raid on McKay's chocolate stash. Who seemed more concerned with getting new toy cars from Earth than more ammunition sometimes. He could, and did like this guy as a friend, brother of sorts, and even a military commander (a guy that could blow up two Hives in one move and still get away alive deserved a lot of respect however you looked at him), but he simply couldnt consider Sheppard as an equally good warrior...or better for that matter...until John got a drop on him five steps away from DHD.

So this was fabled, infamous Sheppard Death Glare? Thing Year One veterans talked about with awe and discomfort? He had heard Beckett and McKay discussing this "Eyes as windows to the soul" thing during dinner once. Rodney scoffed at whole idea, while Doc defended it, albeit with uncomfortable "Hey, im Scottish, ye know." squirm. He dismissed it anyway – if you valued your skin you should watch hands of potential enemy, yes? But now...damnit. If this was how Sheppard's soul really was...No! This was his best friend, and a man who always ran first into danger because he could deal with his own death better than with losing anyone he loved or cared for. Still... he kept looking for any track of missing Lt. Colonel all the way to the Gate. It was a flat, open field covered in knee-high yellowed grass. No place to hide for tall, black clad, mind-addled Earthling. And yet only quiet rustle warned him before black streak slammed into him. Only reflexes and muscle memory burned into core of his being during countless hours of fighting and training saved his trachea from being crushed, his eyeballs gouged by hurricane of perfectly aimed at vulnerable spots hits. He countered this attack with the same automatic efficiency – and now his best friend's left arm hung uselessly...but it didnt stop Sheppard from circling him with catlike grace...coldly...ruthlessly...and staring. Since fall of his homeworld Ronon never met a man he was afraid of, but now he felt cold shiver along his spine. McKay and Teyla acted like animals, actively tracking him, attacking at sight. But Sheppard...unable to speak, think or figure out what knife was for, pilot somehow found one place his prey would have to return no matter what, picked perfect spot to lie in ambush, and then waited for hours like coiled snake until Ronon was in striking distance. And then almost succeded in killing him with bare hands. That was...unsettling. Just as lack of any rage on dirty face and darkened eyes. Only cold, ruthless determination to get to his prize. He have seen this look once before, on another face...his own in the mirror – and he killed Kell later the same day. There was only one way to end this now...and he had to somehow draw, aim and fire his gun before Sheppard would rip his throat off...

...

- "Bugs...why it always have to be bugs?" - Sheppard despondently slid lower in his bed, wincing when movement jostled his still sore shoulder...or back...or one of many black and blue places all over his body.

- "Really, thats not your fault, Colonel" - Jennifer smiled placatingly at her frequent patient, ignoring quiet snicker coming from behind her back. "You had no way to know you were setting camp in the middle of colony of venomous..."ants", for lack of better word."

- "Hmph, yeah – venomous, hallucinogenic, neurotoxin and psychotropes spitting "ants". At least this time nothing attached itself to my neck." - came out in a huff. Jennifer smiled brilliantly and patted his foot.

- "Exactly! Thats the spirit Colonel. Now rest for a bit, and in a couple of hours we'll see about setting you in one room with Rodney and Teyla."

- "Great. Cant wait to hear Rodney's running commentary about his spreading rash." - there was a bit of humour back in Colonel's voice, so Dr. Keller decided she could leave him him now to attend to her other patients. When she was outside Ronon leaning on the wall simply raised one eyebrow. She rolled her eyes in return and indicated he was free to enter – with a wink and grin huge Satedan did exactly that, and she could only hope that no daring escape plan was in the cooking.

- "Chewie, hey!" - greeting was cheerful enough, but Ronon instantly felt it was forced. Calmly making himself comfortable in plastic chair ex-Runner cocked eyebrow at his friend.

-"What?"

- "Nothing. How do you feel?" - Sheppard made a face at this question.

- "Oh, you know. Nothing gets guy's spirit up like three days of medically induced coma, with dialysis or two threw in for good measure. But it could be worse, i guess. If you'd be stung with us Lorne would've had a really hard time retrieving us from Antville." - Ronon could only nod in agreement.

- "Anyways." - Sheppard continued grinning self-depreciatingly - "I bet we managed to embarrass ourselves big time, running around like bunch of hairless werewolves. So, tell me – how bad it was? I bet you've had a hell of a fun kicking our asses."

- "Nah." - Ronon stretched his long legs, carefully hiding relief. Sheppard didnt remember anything...and he was really back. And from now on he will make sure to keep this black-eyed monster from ever needing to come back.

- "Really? I find it hard to believe." - John said dryly.

- "Really." - Ronon confirmed. - "McKay is more fun when he knows whats coming to him. Teyla too is more fun to fight when she knows what she's doing. But you..." - Satedan paused grinning devilishly at his friend.

- "What about me?" - Sheppard wasnt squirming...yet, but he visibly braced himself for punchline.

- "You didnt held back." - Ronon said simply. It took him better part of restless waiting for Keller to find the cause for his team's wild behaviour, and finding a way to cure them, and waiting for them to regain consciousness. But he finally figured it out.

- "What?"

- "You heard me, John. You stopped holding yourself back in fight, and man – finally it was fun to fight you."

- "Oh, come on. You know i always fight as best as i can – just to avoid as many bruises as i can." - There was apprehension in pilot's eyes, and Ronon wondered if Sheppard finally was able to look past his denial to think about other instances when he was not in his right mind...or beyond caring...and REALLY fought as best as he could.

- "No, you dont." - Ronon smirked. - "But dont worry, now that i know what to do i will train it out of you in no time."

- "Oh God!" - Sheppard was pale now and shrinking in is bed. - "Im screwed, am i?"

- "You'll live." - Ronon got up and amiably patted his leader on the knee. - "Now rest and get well soon – your new training regime awaits."

Chased out of the room by string of curses in at least three different Earth languages Ronon Dex started laughing to himself. It was good to be part of family – even as crazy one as his team.